Hidden Gem Bebe Gallini’s Celebrates 10 Years!

Enchantment for home, garden, and soul…Bebe Gallini’s recently celebrated ten years in business with a “sip and shop” event at their store in Oak Street Mill. Like many other local businesses in Cornelius, construction of the diverging diamond interchange has slowed business for this small and unique retail store. Fortunately the store has many loyal customers that continue to support their business during this down time and helped co-owners Beth Phillips and Carole May celebrate their store’s anniversary in September.

If you’re not familiar with Bebe Gallini’s, you’ll be in for a treat. The store sells one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, home décor, original art, and a large assortment of unique gifts that you won’t find in other stores.  Bebe Gallini’s also features and sells the work of many local artists:

Beth Phillips (co-owner) uses reclaimed wood from former cotton mills to build custom dining tables for sale in the store. She pairs the refinished wood surfaces with varying styles of new legs to create a custom unique table that would look great in any home.

Dining table constructed using reclaimed wood from former cotton mills

Dining table constructed using reclaimed wood from former cotton mills

Sharron Goheen and Gina Kilgour, Cornelius artisans and owners of “Arabella Grey,” a company that creates and sells hand-crafted decorative throw pillows and chairs using recycled fabrics and frames. These artists find their chairs at local thrift stores. They then take the piece all the way down to the frame and rebuild them into new custom pieces of furniture.

Former sleigh bed turned into bench, constructed by Amy Weisharr. Decorative pillow by Arabella Grey.

Former sleigh bed turned into bench, constructed by Amy Weisharr. Decorative pillow by Arabella Grey.

Caroline Simas is a Charlotte artist who has licensed her brand “Multiple Blessings” which is known for inspirational art and faith-based messages. Bebe Gallini’s sells original art by Simas and also carries her Inspirations for Life candle collection. The candles are made by Bridgewater Candle Company, and the sale of each candle helps feed a hungry child!

Amy Weisharr is a local Cornelius artist who owns ” A. White Hare Designs” and specializes in architectural paintings and custom furniture. Weisharr has a refurbished mantle for sale in the shop that she literally saved from a dumpster. When she researched the mantle corbels online, she was shocked to discover that they were worth in the neighborhood of $200 each.  The finished mantle is a bargain price at $475. She also has two refurbished armoires for sale in the store. One she has converted into a wine bar and the other is a French styled reproduction piece which was inspired by Tara Shaw Maison.


French inspired armoire by Amy Weisharr

I encourage you to go check out Bebe Gallini’s and other stores in Oak Street Mill in Cornelius including The Dry Sink or The Marketplace. Oak Street Mill is a former cotton mill and glove factory repurposed into stores and businesses, similar to how many of these artists use reclaimed wood in their projects or turn abandoned pieces of furniture into works of art!


Artist Amy Weisharr with Bebe Gallini Co-Owner, Carole May

This blog post was originally written for Cornelius Today newspaper in Lake Norman, North Carolina.

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The Kitchen: where all the action is!


IKB kitchen featuring subway tile back splash and espresso finish island

Kitchens are now much more than a utilitarian room for cooking. Kitchens are often the centerpiece and hub of our homes. When we entertain, everyone always ends up in our kitchen, even though it’s one of the smallest rooms in our house! Because the kitchen is the main room where people entertain, homeowners are willing to spend a lot when it comes to remodeling their kitchens. Brooks Henderson with Henderson Building Group says his clients spend on average $40-$70k for a full kitchen remodel. When spending this kind of money, you don’t want to make big mistakes. To confirm what is trending in kitchen designs, I spoke with Brian Tarle at International Kitchen and Bath in Davidson, NC.

While glass tile and mosaic backsplashes are very popular right now, so is the traditional subway tile backsplash according to Tarle. The name refers to the tile found in the subways of New York I guess, but basically is a rectangular, or brick shape tile, usually twice as long as it is high.  A popular size is 3″ by 6″.  It can be installed horizontally with staggered joints, or in a herringbone pattern to add extra interest.  When it comes to cabinetry, Tarle says the shaker style door is probably the most popular door style of all time. The Shaker style is consistently used as a Traditional style, a Transitional style, and a Contemporary style, depending on the other finishes or fixtures in the kitchen. Cabinets with very dark finishes (espresso) or off-white color tones are the most popular and most often purchased cabinet color or finish.  The middle tones have fallen off in popularity.  Soft color tones are also popular with accent pieces like an island, maybe light green, blue or grey tones, (if the main part of the kitchen has off-white cabinetry). Here is an IKB kitchen that features a subway tile backsplash, an island with espresso finish, while the primary cabinets are finished in off white.  Granite and man-made quartz are most desirable when it comes to counter tops.

If a $40-$70k budget is out of reach, there are other simple cosmetic improvements you can make to your kitchen and give it a whole new look. Earlier this spring I consulted on an older waterfront home that was coming on the market. Most would describe its kitchen as dated. It had natural maple cabinets, brass hardware and fixtures, and no backsplash. The flooring was dark and dated marble which would have been very difficult and cost prohibitive to remove. The solution for this kitchen was quite simple, a trendy mixed material mosaic backsplash. We installed American Olean Chateau Emperador indoor/outdoor wall tile that has a 5-star rating on Lowes.com .  The coloring in this mixed material backsplash tied in perfectly with the client’s marble flooring. We also updated lighting and installed new cabinet hardware to update this kitchen and ultimately sold this house in less than a week!

30_7938 Placid Ct

American Olean Chateau Emperador Mixed Material Tile

American Olean Chateau Emperador Mixed Material Tile

34_7938 Placid Ct

Regardless of how big or small your budget is, you should be able to come up with some great ideas or solutions for your kitchen by reading home improvement magazines or researching your project online on web sites such as BobVila.com/Nation, HGTV.com or  or HOUZZ.com.



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One of a kind furniture makeovers


Buffet before makeover

Before kids (when I had more time on my hands), I enjoyed dabbling in rehabbing furniture finds from thrift stores and flea markets. Some of the pieces I refurbished we were able to enjoy in our home for years. They were unique and one of a kind. Most recently I stumbled across a wonderful business Facebook page named Creative Brushworks. Owner Robin Puckett specializes in murals, decorative wall finishes, and furniture. Over the last several months I have appreciated Puckett’s before and after photos that she posts on her company Facebook page and wanted to share her work with our readers.

Here we are featuring one of her refurbished side boards. Before tackling a painting project such as this one, make sure the piece of furniture is structurally sound and solid wood is preferred. Unless you have great carpentry skills, only buy something that you can fix up with a little wood glue and wood filler. You can’t fix wobbly legs with a coat of paint! For any paint to have good adhesion, the piece needs to be clean and free of debris.

Next remove all the drawer pulls/hardware. If you like the hardware, you can just clean it up or spray paint it. If you don’t like it, replace it. Any doors should be removed and painted separately. Be sure to glue any loose joints and fill any holes/gaps with wood filler if needed. Then sand the piece to remove surface scratches, smooth out any repairs and to lightly scuff up high gloss finishes. It is highly recommended that you wear a dust mask while sanding.

After sanding the piece should be cleaned (be sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands). Puckett uses powdered TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) mixed with water in a bucket and then wipes it down with a cloth. She rinses the cloth frequently in the water solution to remove any debris (note TSP is sold at hardware and paint stores, read directions carefully). If only light cleaning is needed, you can use a cleaner like Simple Green. If the piece needed heavy sanding or repair you should prime it before painting.

Next comes the fun part where you begin to see results – painting! There are many different types of paints out there, but Puckett’s favorite is Paint Couture, a low VOC, 100% acrylic paint formulated just for furniture and cabinets. The paint line also includes pre-mixed glazes and sealers so you can purchase everything you need for a custom finish. This paint is sold through several local distributors which you can find on PaintCouture.com. If you decide to stain part of a piece like she did for the buffet featured here, she recommends MinWax stains.

After makeover

After makeover

For ideas and inspiration, look at home décor magazines such as HGTV and Pinterest.com. Don’t be afraid of bright colors! You can also use stencils, stamps, even decoupage paper on to your furniture. Replacing or spray painting the drawer handles/hardware on a piece can make a big difference. There are all types of metal spray paints available that work great on hardware. Be sure to have fun with your project, it’s so rewarding to see how amazing an old piece can look freshened up with paint!

1920's cabinet before makeover

1920’s cabinet before makeover

During makeover, before glazing

During makeover, before glazing

1920's cabinet after makeover

1920’s cabinet after makeover

All photos provided by Robin Puckett, Owner  https://www.facebook.com/CreativeBrushworks CreativeBrushworks.com 

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Is brass making a comeback?

For years I have recommended that clients replace their dated brass fixtures to help sell their house. These brass fixtures include but are not limited to plumbing, lighting, and cabinet hardware. Nickel, aged bronze, or chrome finish materials have been more desirable and popular among buyers in recent years. Even though there has been chatter about brass making a comeback, I won’t be recommending it by the truck load any time soon as this trend is still evolving. On a recent lighting expedition for a client renovation, I had this very same discussion with Terry MacCallum, a Lighting Consultant at LightStyles in Cornelius. When I asked her about brass making a comeback, her immediate answer was “well yes, and no.” The brass that is starting to surface in lighting stores is quite different than the cheap shiny brass fixtures installed in trac housing and custom homes more than a decade ago. Depending on the manufacturer, this new brass comes in several finishes including “brushed gold”, “winter gold”, and “gold leaf” among others.

While the main lighting display at the front of LightStyles store features a cloud of these trending new gold chandeliers, there is still a wide variety of other fixtures and finishes throughout the store other than gold or brass. When I recommend new lighting or plumbing fixtures to clients, I often shop for lighting both online and in person where I can get a better feel for the actual product. The type of product and finish I recommend depends on the price point and style of the home, whether or not other fixtures have already been updated in the home and a general feel for the space. While homeowners should choose fixtures they like, they should also keep resale in mind. You never know if or when you’ll need to sell your home, so it’s always a good idea for a homeowner to consult with an expert such as a lighting consultant, interior designer or home staging professional when updating lighting in your home.  These professionals will guide you to make a choice that is both tasteful and timeless.

Example of brass chandelier that dates the home:

photo (4)Example of similar size new trending brass in “Brushed Gold” finish by Capital Lighting:

Capital Lighting


After writing this home decor column for a local newspaper, I was contacted by another local vendor that specializes in covers that hide unsightly chandelier chains/electrical cords and/or lamp cords so I thought I would share their story in my blog. Cord Coverup® by A&M Designs, Inc. manufactures a designer quality decorative lighting accessory line that graces many fine homes, businesses, clubs, hotels, casinos and resorts around the world. One aspect I like about this company is that their product line is made right here in North Carolina by displaced textile workers.  This product comes in many styles of fabrics including Dupioni silks, sheer silks, faux silks, burlaps, linens, sheer linens, animal prints, floral prints, gingham checks, toiles and polka dots to complement any home decor. For more information, visit their web site at http://www.cordcoverup.com/.

cord cover up



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Does your master bedroom have the boring bedroom blues?

Does your master bedroom look more like a place where you sort your laundry or the place you keep your treadmill?  Because we don’t entertain in here, master bedrooms are typically the last room homeowners get around to decorating.  The truth is you spend more time in this room than any other room in your home, so why not create a beautiful and clutter-free master bedroom that gives you total peace of mind.

When designing your new master retreat, I recommend beginning with new bedding and linens. Find a bedding ensemble that you totally fall in love with. The average homeowner can find many great selections at mall department stores such as Belk, Dillard’s, or Macy’s. Another more obvious choice would be Bed, Bath, & Beyond. From here you can make choices regarding wall color, accent colors, window treatments, wall art and other décor. I will walk you through the process.

For a clean and sophisticated master retreat, I chose a white and grey hotel bedding collection as my starting point. Moving on to wall color, I found Sherwin-Williams Exclusive Plum, which happens to be the company’s color of the year. Jackie Jordan, Sherwin-Williams director of color marketing, describes this purple hue as a dusky, filtered violet layered with romantic potential – couldn’t be more fitting for a master bedroom retreat!  Then the homeowner can make selections on window treatments (panels, valences, or a combination of both). Next comes the fun part, filling in with accessories and various décor. I have provided examples in this mood board, a concept often used by interior designers to convey design ideas and inspiration to clients. As a homeowner, keep searching for what appeals to you. Don’t rush the process or settle because in the end you won’t be happy. Once you create your perfect room, you won’t ever want to leave.

Master Bedroom Mood Board

Master Bedroom Mood Board

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Out with the old, In with the New!

It’s that time of year where our homes are filled with holiday décor and lots of new treasures received from loved ones over Christmas. My children have eighteen aunts and uncles with many of them sending gifts, and it can get overwhelming trying to find a place to put everything! I admit that I have been called a neat freak or control freak, but I recently crossed paths with some REAL control freaks…so much so that they even named their Charlotte-based business “Control Freaks LLC.” Control Freaks was founded in 2009 by Sherri Hopper and Tori Jenkins. The three of us got together to provide some suggestions on what you can do to get your home organized before, during, and after the holidays.

In an ideal world, homeowners should try to conduct a big “purge” before the holidays instead of afterwards in order to make room for new clothes, toys, and gadgets. Depending on the ages of your children, use this season as a time to teach them an important skill, organization. For every one new toy or piece of clothing you receive, remove one or two items from your home. This is something that can be done year round. Home owners should be in the mind set to categorize their items: donate or sell, keep, discard.

Hopper and Jenkins have found that the best way to gain control of any area of a home is to use labeling. Doing so will make maintaining a lot easier. Whether your children will be keeping all their new things in their room or in the bonus room, plan to incorporate labeling. They use an electronic labeler with various containers, but hand-written labels will work too! Homeowners can purchase tags for labeling such as those offered as part of Martha Stewart’s line at Staples. Lastly shelving of some sort can be utilized to create a more organized space for things. IKEA is a great source for affordable organization solutions. I especially like their Expedit line that comes in five different colors and various
sizes with all kinds of insert solutions such as drawers, doors, boxes, baskets or bins. Check out Control Freaks web site at http://www.controlfreaksnc.com for more photos on ways you can organize your home.

Martha Stewart Home Office TM with Avery TM Chalkboard Labels

Labeling storage bins and baskets will help keep your home more organized.


Tori Jenkins and Sherri Hopper own Control Freaks LLC. They help bring control to your home!

Wire Basket Organizers

Labeling bins and baskets and shelving units are key ingredients.

IKEA Office Niche

IKEA Expedit shelving unit and desk help organize this youth bedroom.

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Painting: Small investment yields big returns

I always tell my clients that paint is one of the least expensive home improvements a home owner can make, with the largest amount of return on investment (especially if homeowners are able to do the work themselves).  Painting as a home improvement project is not limited to just to your drywall interiors, as just about any surface can be transformed with a couple coats of paint!

When we moved into our current home many years ago, we didn’t necessarily have the funds to update everything that needed updating at the time.  We had one of those “not-so-beautiful” brass chandeliers from the 1990’s in our kitchen, so I decided to update the fixture with some paint and accessories.   I spray painted it crème and purchased some cute little shades that I covered with a sage green gingham check fabric and finished off with green trim.  The total cost of this project was about $30 which cost significantly less than purchasing a new chandelier.

Most recently during staging consultations with clients looking to sell, I made some suggestions with respect to paint that surprised both the realtor and sellers.  The first home had a garage that had been converted into living space with heated square footage and was the largest room in the home.  It had been finished with wood panel walls by the previous owners, and the current homeowners were looking to sell because of corporate relocation.  I recommended painting the paneling with one of my favorite “go-to” staging colors Kilim Beige by Sherwin Williams.  It turned out great and the clients’ home showed well.  They received two full-price offers within days of listing.

Before & after paint paneling

The second consultation was a previously foreclosed home where the investors painted the dated brick fireplace.  The color I suggested for this makeover was Sherwin Williams Alabaster.  Paint totally lightened and brightened this dingy fireplace, and the Italian countryside canvas art provided a pop of color to create a great focal point in this room.  This home sold in just 37 days.

Fireplace B&A

As you can see, painting was well worth these sellers’ investment in both time and money.  Just about anything can be painted, you just need to determine which type of paint is best to use for your application.  If you’re not sure, ask a representative at your local paint store.  These professionals are a great resource for homeowners since paint is their expertise.  What item in your home is waiting for a fresh look with a new coat of paint?

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